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One way of characterising recent developments is to look at our locus of engagement with the network. We can see a trend from database, to website to workflow.
And this is not really surprising. As more of our working, learning and playing lives moves onto the network we need better workflow support. One can state one of the major challenges facing libraries in these terms. Historically, users have built their workflow around the services the library provides. As we move forward, the reverse will increasingly be the case. On the network, the library needs to build its services around its users’ work- and learn-flows (networkflows).
This may provide one way of thinking about institutional repositories. I tend to think about institutional repositories as ways of automating particular processes in support of particular institutional goals. Now, one of the discussion points around insitutional repositories is about which goals they support: open access, curation of institutional intellectual assets, reputation management. And which processes? Over time, it is clear that what we now call institutional repositories will be part of wider research process support. What is currently the institutional repository will be a component of the workflow/curation/disclosure apparatus that develops to support research activities.
A couple of interesting recent indications of direction …
I have mentioned before the impact of research assessment on local infrastructure, particularly in the UK and Australia where there is a need to record and report research outputs. Some support issues are discussed in an interesting White Paper by Les Carr and John MacColl. This is one output of the IRRA project, which has also released some software which extends eprints.org and Dspace to provide better workflow support for the Research Assessment Exercise.
The software to allow EPrints and DSpace institutional repositories to be used for RAE 2008 is now available in Bronze release form. This means that it has been adopted internally on the test institutions and has undergone some months of testing. It is now being made avalable to the UK academic community for repository managers to gain the experience of fitting it into their Institutional RAE processes. [IRRA: Institutional Repositories for Research Assessment: a JISC Project]
The second indication is the mix of interests which are coming together under the CRIS label (see the euroCRIS website), where CRIS is Current Research Information Systems. The mix of presentations at CRIS 2004 conference gives a flavor of some of these interests, where we see presentations about national research information policy, institutional asset management, grey literature and other topics. I do not want to place more weight on this than it will bear, especially as I have no direct experience of this group, but the convergence of interests represented in their conferences and on the website also show the trend towards wider research support.
- In the flow (See the remarks in this entry about how the University of Rochester is looking to support more of the writing/submission workflow as part of their institutional repository activities.)
- Institutional repositories and research assessment
- Project Arrow